Coal, Again! - TriBeCaStan
TriBeCaStan mean no disrespect to the eastern world or Christmas. On the contrary, Coal Again is a reimagining of both. They just don't abide by artificial lines in the sand or the ball and chain of convention. The 10 piece creates a sonic bazaar; a riot of eastern and western acoustic textures and tapestries beefed with world and jazz foundations and Appalachian roots, all in the concrete heart of New York City. But their approach is more than "peasant music in an affluent zip code". Each member multitasks on a host of instruments both familiar and exotic, and their remarkable collective pedigree places them within a degree from the likes of Badal Roy (Miles Davis' percussionist), Willy Deville, John McLaughlin, Sting, Carlos Santana, Eddie Harris and Bachir Attar from the Master Musicians of Jajouka. Says cofounder, Jeff Green (yayli tambur, nycleharpa, ukulele, marimba and double flutes), "Our music is ultimately about the cross-fertilization of musical idioms. Between our travels and life in New York City, we get to witness, first-hand, all the wonderful ways in which the world's cultures combine with American traditions to create new musical forms and expressions. To us, there couldn't be anything more exciting." His partner in crime, John Kruth (mandolin, mandocello, flutes, banjo. Portuguese guitar, harmonica, sitar and vocals) is even more succinct, "at the end of the day, our sound and ethos derives from one simple construct: just play music you haven't heard yet." That would prove particularly challenging considering the material on Coal, Again! Playfully irreverent, TriBeCaStan leaves their signature on the Christmas standards like O Little Town of Bethlemayhem, Little Drummer Boychik and Good King What's His Name?. Just 6 tracks long, the interpretations cover a swack of musical ground. An absolute must listen is baritone saxophonist, Katherine Kennicott Davis' arrangement of Little Drummer Boychik. She lays down a Peter Gunn groove behind a slide guitar lead on the melody. It's crazy and it works so well. O Little Town of Behlemayhem drops the one down to the Caribbean with steel pan and farfisa. And, Good King What's His Name? paints a primal canvas with double flute, marimba, jews harp and ancient strings. Yes, you've heard them all before, but you most definitely have never heard them like this.